Sunday 25 February 2018

Taoiseach: Ireland must stick to budget deficit target

Group Political Correspondent in Brussels

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that agreement by European leaders to ease the impact of austerity will not mean an easier Budget for Ireland this year.

Speaking at the European People's Party summit at Kortrijk outside Brussels, Mr Kenny said the Government must stick to its Budget deficit target, despite the leaders' decision.

Mr Kenny confirmed that EU leaders are looking at ways to stimulate growth in the Eurozone without impacting on national deficit levels, but said Ireland will meet its stated Budget target of 3pc of GDP.

"On whether this impacts on our Budget for next year, we have been very clear about this. Our target is to have our deficit below 3pc by 2015, we will achieve that target," he told reporters.

"We don't know the actual scale of the adjustment, but the stronger the economy grows, the more favourable the conditions for achieving that are. Michael Noonan has made it clear we will achieve that target. We want to continue to be in a position to attract new jobs, new investment and for us the big picture is the mandate given to the Government in 2011, to fix the public finances and get your country get back to work," he added.

Ireland is keen to allow public investment in large energy infrastructure without the cost being added to our national debt, which could impact on Ireland's borrowing costs.

Mr Kenny also confirmed that a vote for the position of EU Commission President will now be put to a vote, because of British opposition to the preferred candidate for the position, Jean Claude Juncker.

Mr Kenny said he expected Mr Juncker to be ratified by qualified majority when the EU Council meets formally in Brussels tomorrow.

Mr Kenny was asked about speculation that he is about to name outgoing Labour Leader and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore as Ireland's next EU Commissioner, ahead of the perceived front runner, Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

He said: "No I haven't decided yet. I had a discussion with Jean Claude Juncker last Saturday and assured him of my support following the very clear election process we had in Dublin. I said that on his election as President then we would be talking about Commissionerships."

Well there are a number of Commissionerships that would be of interest to Ireland and I will speak to the President when he is elected. I am not going to comment about any name or any personality," Mr Kenny added.

At a dinner in Ypres last night, EU leaders discussed further the new stability and growth agenda.

They failed to sign off on an agreed text but work is to continue overnight.

They also still have to agree on the issue of migration into the EU.

It is hoped that agreement from all 28 countries can be secured later today.

Online Editors

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